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ChickenStu on Solo

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#1 ChickenStu



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Posted 15 July 2014 - 09:48 PM

The truth? I actually really enjoyed it. Sue me. I know a lot of you guys in here really don't dig this volume but I personally had a great time! 

Boyd doesn't write Our Man like Fleming did... but this time it's OK. Boyd writes him how Boyd writes him and that's good enough for me! 


Loved the opening storyline of Our Man being thrown into an African civil war. His adventures out in Zanzarim were pretty exciting and compelling - and an unexpected bonus was it reflected modern concerns whilst still being set in the 60's. Retro and contemporary meet each other head on and it's most satisfying. Especially as Our Man is a bit older than we're probably used to seeing him in the overall book series. 


Kobus Breed and his cronies were truly nasty, NASTY pieces of work and Blessing was an interesting and well written character. 


I was surprised by how severely injured Bond is at one point in this story but it's a great set up for an amazing pay off. I ADORED his bloodthirsty rampage of revenge in the book's last third. Real sleazy fun.


What lets this book down for me if anything though - is it probably has about two twists in the tale too many. I had to read the final conversation toward the end of the book a couple of times to get a handle on things... and I'm still quite not sure I've 100% got the gist of it. 

Also the open ending left me somewhat frustrated. I know what Boyd was trying to do with it. Even though it's probably not a set up for a sequel - I'd still like to see Boyd return to the Bond series one day and clear the matter up. 


Anyway, that's it. Thanks for reading! 


#2 SecretAgentFan



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Posted 16 July 2014 - 12:51 PM

I must say I did not enjoy the plotting, it felt aimless to me.  And it lacked the sardonic humor I expect from a Bond novel.

#3 glidrose


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Posted 18 July 2014 - 08:52 PM

Very underdeveloped story. I set out what the problem was before. For the "solo" plot to have any resonance, Bond would have to do battle with his erstwhile allies. That would have made a fantastic story.

#4 Guy Haines

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 06:32 AM

I'm over half way listening to the audio version of Solo. It has its good and not so good points. ChickenStu has mentioned some of them above. Bond is thrown into a fully fledged war which tests his mettle as a soldier rather than as a special agent - I suspect that's what the flashbacks to 7th June 1944 were set up to support, even though he's a Royal Navy man.


Kobus Breed is indeed a nasty piece of work. If Bond had to go to Africa in the late 1960s, then taking on a mercenary villain seemed obvious, and giving him a background from the rebel state of Rhodesia also makes it contemporary to the time the story is set. However, Breed is more of a senior henchman than an evil genius. That's what the book lacked - the money man, Hulbert Linck, is a shadowy European who backed the wrong horse but doesn't come across as particularly villainous.


Also, at times in the novel it seems like Bond has wandered into a different kind of novel -  more Graham Greene (Mentioned in Solo) than Ian Fleming, with 007 rubbing shoulders with hard nosed cynical and often drunk journalists and having to confront the kind of extremes of poverty his hedonistic life outside of work would have kept him from. (And lets not mince words - for "Zanzarim" read Nigeria, for "Dahum" read Biafra - that's the real life civil war the book is based around.)


I might contribute a bit more once Bond has left Africa for the US. Incidentally, don't forget the other leading lady in the story, Bryce Fitzjohn - slightly older than Bond's usual squeeze and clearly based in my view on those "Hammer Horror" scream queens, again of the 1960s.